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Being an Entrepreneur with Type 1 Diabetes

EntrepreneurAs some or most, or even none of you may know, I own CSI Marketing Solutions.  Owning my own business has been one of my dreams since I was a kid.  It is extremely cliche to hear from just about every entrepreneur, “I had a lemonade stand when I was 6, hustling in the neighborhood.”  Yes, I did have a lemonade stand, but majority of kids had a lemonade stand when they were kids.  I never knew exactly what sort of business I wanted to own, even going into college.  Until about my junior year of college I wanted to have my own financial advising firm, but obviously that never happened.

Once I was “kicked off” of my parents health insurance at the age of 25, I faced the harsh reality of knowing that I can’t get my own personal health insurance.  The only way that I could do it is by working for somebody else, something I had no intentions of doing the rest of the my life.

One thing led to another and I was without a job and was on COBRA.  For the first time, I had health insurance and didn’t have to work for somebody else. This was 2009 and that’s when CSI Marketing Solutions was created.  Sidebar, CSI has nothing to do with one of my favorite TV shows, CSI stands for Chris Stocker Inc.  I own and manage about 10-15 other affiliate based websites and they are all under the CSI name.  Ok, back to the story.

CSI Marketing Solutions was born and it was more of a one person freelance gig than anything else.  After about a year of doing this, I realized that COBRA was becoming way too expensive, and it would be running out in a few months, and I had to take an opportunity to go work for somebody else again.  That job lasted for about 18 months, meanwhile I was still doing freelance work at night. Basically, until I just could not work for others anymore and I had to get back to running CSI Marketing Solutions full time.

I went back on COBRA and left the job and have been running CSI Marketing Solutions full time again for well over a year.  Within that time I, well now I can say we, have been able to grow from just a one person show and to a few employees that create an excellent team.

So, now that I have given the “short” story, I want to give some advice to those out there who have diabetes and want to own their company but have the fear of health insurance holding them back.  You will hear most entrepreneurs say the number one factor from holding them back is the fear of failure.  I think this is true for most, but as someone with type 1 diabetes, the fear of not having insurance or not affording your supplies is even scarier.

So here are a few things that I’ve learned over time.

Marriage and Insurance

If you are married and are looking to make the leap into becoming an entrepreneur, do some investigation into your spouse’s health insurance (if they are employed).  Currently, this is not an option for me, because Amanda and I will not be married until July of this year.  If your spouse does not have insurance either, or you are not married, then verify that you will qualify for COBRA even if you leave your current job.  Find out from your current employer how much approximately, the COBRA will be.  This will allow you to begin your planning and budgeting process.

Save for Supplies (and taxes)

One of the perks of being an entrepreneur and running your own business is that you can control, to a point, how much of a monthly income you have.  Let’s say for example you are a graphic designer and you make approximately $500 per project.  If your monthly budget (we will get to that next), is $3,500, then you know that you need to take on 7 projects this month.  When you work for somebody else, you can’t just tell them you want more money this month.  So, that is where a budget comes into play.  Write out a budget that includes everything, including your supplies that you may need in 3 months.  Having this budget will allow you to know exactly how much money, and time, you need to earn in any given month.  Also, don’t forget to save for your taxes!

Get Moving

This applies to not just entrepreneurs, but pretty much anyone who works in an office environment or sits during their job for most of the day.  As somebody who works from home and is in front of a computer for nearly 12-14 hours a day, I have become a master of the Pomodoro Technique, where I take a 5 minute break every 25 minutes. I walk around, channel my inner future stay-at-home dad and do laundry or dishes or house chores.  If taking a break every 25 minutes is not an option, you may want to invest in a standing desk.  You may find yourself working non-stop and hustling your way to success, but always remember, you still need to test, rest, and eat.

I could go on and on about everything that I learned in this time of growing a business while having type 1 diabetes, but I think I have gone on long enough.

The final thing I want to say is, don’t let diabetes hold you back from doing it.  In this particular situation, it’s not the diabetes holding you back, but the health insurance that is.  There are ways to make it work.  Don’t just outright quit one day, plan it out and then work the plan.